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Published in: May-June 2024 issue.

The Life and Line of Keith Haring
by Brad Gooch
Harper. 512 pages, $42.

BRAD GOOCH is an accomplished memoirist, novelist, and biographer of such literary figures as Rumi, Flannery O’Connor, and Frank O’Hara. His latest book is a compelling analysis of the remarkable legacy of artist Keith Haring.

            Gooch was a contemporary of Haring when the latter was alive; they inhabited the same queer scene in 1980s New York. Much has been written about Haring from an art history perspective, but Gooch adds to the corpus with this sensitive and engaging portrait of his life and his legacy as an artist. Gooch was given full access to Haring’s archives, and he interviewed more than 200 people. The result is a compendium of vivid, first-person narratives that provide an insider’s perspective on the artist’s life. Because he focuses on friends and colleagues, Gooch delivers less academic “artspeak” than entertaining backstories about the artist’s inspirations and frustrations.

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John R. Killacky is the author of Because Art: Commentary, Critique, & Conversation.